It's that time of the year again when the flu bug (or influenza) has got the best of you. Influenza is a viral infection that is spread person to person by coughing and sneezing. Influenza usually starts with the symptoms such as coughing, headache and chills then quickly develops into sneezing, fever, runny nose and watery eyes, loss of appetite and muscle aches. It can last anywhere from seven to 10 days. Young children and the elderly are also at a higher risk for complications as a result of the flu.

Eighty percent of common infectious diseases, such as the flu or colds, are also spread by your hands.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

Wash your hands! By using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help minimize the amount of germs that you are spreading. The best hand sanitizers to use are ones that contain 60-90 per cent alcohol content. You should also learn proper hand washing techniques:

1. Wash hands
2. Use soap
3. Lather for a good 15 seconds
4. Rinse thoroughly with clear water
5. Towel dry
6. Use towel to turn off taps

Did you know there is a new way to sneeze that can prevent the spread of germs?

If you don't have a tissue handy, don't sneeze or cough into your hands — use your upper sleeve instead! If you have a tissue, use it and don't forget to always cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Once you have used the tissue, dispose of it into the garbage and be sure to wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

What is Fanshawe doing to help protect you against the flu?

Fanshawe College offers free flu immunization clinics for staff and students every November. By getting the flu shot, your immune system will produce antibodies, which when exposed to the virus, will help reduce the severity of the illness.

Keep safe, healthy and have fun this winter!

For more information, drop into the Health and Safety Services office in D1021.